Madhya Pradesh: Pending DNA test in MP’s sole laboratory halt wheels of justice for rape survivors

BHOPAL: For thousands of rape survivors in Madhya Pradesh, the agonising wait for justice is getting prolonged merely because the state’s sole Forensic Laboratory is not able to analyse the DNA samples submitted to it by the police fast enough. With more than 6,000 DNA samples pending for analysis, the courts are unable to pronounce their judgments.

The Supreme Court has made DNA test mandatory in all cases of rape, following the registration of scores of false cases, which was leading to thousands of innocent persons being thrown behind bars for a crime which they never committed. The apex court has categorically ruled that no rape case should be decided unless DNA report is presented before the court either along with the charge sheet or during the trial. The SC has also directed that trial in rape cases should be completed within a period of two months.

After the SC order, the state police have started submitting DNA samples for analysis in all cases of rape. However, the problem is that the state has only laboratory to test the samples – and that is in Sagar. The lab has a limited capacity and hence the samples are being tested at a snail’s pace. Because of this the police are unable to submit DNA reports along with the charge sheets and many cases in which trial is underway have got stuck for want of the report.

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Sources say that around 6,000 DNA samples are pending for analysis in the lab. The analysis of a sample takes a minimum of seven days and another two-three days are needed for preparing the report. The cost of testing each sample is around Rs 10,000.

DNA report plays a key role in securing conviction in cases of gang-rape and in cases of rape-murder of minor girls. However, even in such cases, there is an inordinate delay in presenting the reports.

New lab coming up in Bhopal: In a bid to expedite the pending cases, another laboratory is coming up in state capital. Once the lab is operational in Bhopal, the load on the Sagar lab would be eased considerably and the delay in report submission would be checked. Currently, all samples are sent to Sagar laboratory.

Courts in a fix: The courts are in a quandary. On one hand they cannot pronounce a judgment without DNA report while on the other hand they are required to complete the trial within two months. Courts are writing to the SPs of the district, asking them to present the reports as soon as possible. But the SPs, too, are helpless. The district prosecution officers are writing to the directorate of prosecution to expedite the process. But there is little anyone can do for the lab at Sagar has a limited number of scientists and they cannot speed up the process, even if they want to.

‘Pendency a big problem’

The director general prosecution Pushottam Sharma informed Free Press that the pendency in the DNA report is a big problem for the prosecution officers. As soon as the lab in Bhopal runs with its full capacity the situation will going to change, the cases are bounded by the SC that the report is necessary to release the verdict into the case.

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